Irish Sea ferry company Stena Line is to invest more than £5m on board one of its ships sailing regularly out of Holyhead port.
Since its introduction a year ago, the Stena Seatrader, which operates between the Welsh port and Dublin, has exceeded the company's expectations on the route and the company said it was confident that would continue.
The RoPax ship, which was built in Denmark, has a gross tonnage of 17,991 tonnes and can carry 221 passengers and 210 cars. It has 2,100 lane metres of freight capacity.
The new investment in the vessel underlines the fact that Stena Line has enjoyed a boom in freight traffic on its Irish Sea routes from Holyhead, although passenger levels have been hit in part by competition from cheap fares offered by no-frills airlines.
Vic Goodwin, Stena Line's route director for Central Corridor services from Holyhead to Dublin and Dun Laoghaire, said: "In recent years, we have seen Holyhead Port grow in importance to freight customers who now see Holyhead as the main gateway for transport to and from Ireland.
"The Stena Seatrader, which joined the Central Corridor in October 2006, has provided us with greater frequency of sailing times and much greater capacity for our freight customers, in addition to the alternative services we offer on our high speed service, the HSS Stena Explorer, and our superferry, the Stena Adventurer.
"During the first 12 months of operation the Stena Seatrader has met our expectations and while there is some way to go towards meeting our business plan, we have been encouraged with progress and we therefore feel that the investment is justified."
He added: "This new sailing schedule has proved to be very attractive for our customers who want to arrive in Dublin and get underway before the morning rush hour and return early, thereby improving vehicle turnaround time.
"Due to the popularity of the Stena Seatrader, we have decided to make further investments to our facilities on board and improve the vessel's technical performance and subsequent turnaround times in both ports."
The work will be undertaken during the vessel's annual refit, which is planned for the end of the year and will include improvements to the ship's vehicle decks and the installation of two new bow thrusters to significantly enhance the vessels manoeuvrability in port. In addition, the refit will include a complete refurbishment of the cabin accommodation area.
For more information or to book a crossing, please visit our Stena Line page.
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